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Friday, May 17, 2013

Waiting for the Barbarians Character of The Slave girl (Nicknames, The star)


            Coetzee’s fictional, dramatic and political works are truly representative of African reality and sensibility. He gives a social – psychological study of his protagonists who are caught in the wed of conflict between will and tradition. Coetzee’s novels fascinate every one with their rich wisdom and practical knowledge. Human psychology and human behavior have been his interesting topics of study. In “Waiting for the barbarians” the novelist shows conflict between good and evil through the character of the old magistrate and colonel Joll. The Magistrate represents virtue, while Joll represent vice.
            Like Soyinka and Achebe, Coatzee is also a synthesizer. He believes in great re-union. He stresses the need of Cohesion between the individual and the society. He emphasizes this idea through the character of the Magistrate and the slave girl, nicknamed as the Star.

v  Blind Barbarian:-
            She is one of the barbarians. Colonel Joll has brought her to the town. She is blind. She has put on a coat which is too large for her. There is a fur cap open before her on the ground. She has straight black eyebrows, the glossy black hair of the barbarians. The Magistrate asks a soldier to bring her to his room. He finds that she smells of smoke, of stale a soldier clothing, of fish. Her hands are horny. He asks her whether she is really blind. In reply she says that she can see. He again asks her, “Where do you live?” She simply says, “I live”. This means that she is quite homeless. She belongs to nobody. Nobody belongs to her! Then his sympathy goes deeper and deeper and one day he tells her, “I have offered that you should come and work here. You cannot beg in the streets. I can not permit that. And you must have a place of abode. If you work here, you can share the Cook’s room.

v  Magistrate’s  kitchen maid
            Then the Magistrate comes closer and closer to her. He washes her feet and legs with soft milky soap. He helps her to go to the bed and dries her with a warm towel. He also cleans her toenails. He washes all her body, but she is quite patient and silent. He rubs her body with almond oil. She becomes his kitchen maid. The soldiers say, “From the kitchen to the Magistrate’s bed in sixteen easy steps.”

v  A very pretty little creature
            The Magistrate also calls her “a very pretty little creature.” Her nickname of the inn is The Star, but he always thinks of her as a bird. At last he has sensual relations with her. When she tells him that she wants to meet her sister, he feel pity for her and says, “I am taking you back to your people.” She never complains. Her face is as peaceful as a baby’s. She travels for ten days along with her to reach her near and dear ones, the barbarian. Here she tells him, “I do not want to go back to that place.”

v  Representative of Coetzee’s message:-
            Through the slave girls’ character, the novelist wants to say the barbarians are not as barbarous as we think them to be. They are a part of the African society. They want to live with others with love and affection. Only the segregationist like Colonel Joll keep them away and tyrannies them. Here through the amiable relation between the slave girl and the Magistrate Coatzee stresses the need of cohesion which will surely lead the Africans to peace, prosperity and plenty again.